Compagnie Philippe Genty, Dedale

Review in Issue 11-2 | Summer 1999

The major coup of this year’s Puppet Up! Festival of British Puppetry in Blackpool, was a rare appearance from Compagnie Philippe Genty, Europe’s leading visual theatre company. This highly skilled and beautifully inventive company can really teach British wannabies a few things about what ‘visual theatre’ really means.

Genty’s company combine object animation, mime, dance and poetry to create a theatre of illusion and wonder. This really is work to gasp at. Genty plays with scale in a masterful way, so that the eye can be captivated by the smallest image – which is no easy achievement on such a large stage as the Grand’s – whilst simultaneously being entertained by the larger set-pieces and life-sized puppets. Typically Gallic in flavour, the show contains many delightfully surreal, and often macabre, visual images. In the opening scene, a voluptuous woman takes a carving knife to her breast and hacks off a slice which she feeds to a huge jumping fish. In a later scene, a baby appears to be devoured by a clamouring mob.

Whilst the effects are stunning and consistently surprising the show does appear to be grappling with a narrative that, in the most part, remains abstruse. Hence, it begins to wane midway through and at the end leaves one with the curious feeling that the whole is somehow less than the sum of its parts.

Nonetheless, as an example of virtuoso skill and gorgeous aestheticism, Compagnie Philippe Genty is worth its weight in gold. And how nice to see such important work on a stage outside London.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1999

This article in the magazine

Issue 11-2
p. 23